I felt a distinct chill in the air, as the shadows crowded in around us. Being surrounded by the souls of the recently deceased was eerie. They had no features, no discernable expression, yet their malevolent intent was palpable. I kept my eyes on Plum, finding it unnerving to look at the entities. It’s hard to put into words, looking directly at one was like gazing into a black void…a rift in the substance of reality. Now, imagine being surrounded by them. I wondered whether or not they could harm me. How do you fight a shadow?
Plum gave them their marching orders and I watched them silently merge with the gathering darkness outside. With the help of the other witches, she set about burying the bodies on her property. Plum looked around for Delilah, remembered she was still up in the office and yelled for her to come downstairs and help. Five minutes later, Plum told me to go up and get her.
As ordered, Flame’s remains had been swept up and deposited in the vase. I found Delilah gripping the edge of the desk, struggling mightily to resist her body’s compulsion to follow Plum’s directive. She looked so ridiculous, I started laughing.
“What are you doing Delilah? You’re just wasting your time. You know you’ll have to do what Plum tells you to do. Being stubborn is only going wear you out and piss her off.”
“Anything is better than being her little lapdog! You’ve got a lot of nerve laughing at me, while you scurry around doing Plum’s bidding just to stay on her good side.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Plum and I are partners.”
“Oh please…wait, you’re serious aren’t you? How delusional are you right now? Wake up Patricia. Plum hasn’t listened to you all night. Even you realized that much, because you tried to step in between us. Of course that did no good, because she flung you across the room like a rag doll.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t tried to murder Plum, her nerves wouldn’t be on edge! She’s not herself tonight, thanks to you!”
“Why do you think we did it? That woman is dangerous. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe, just because she hasn’t turned on you yet.”
“Stop trying to scare me Delilah, you’re just pissed off, because she outsmarted you.”
“I won’t pretend that I’m not upset about that, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. Plum is no ordinary witch. Listen to me Patricia. The girls and I have gone up against all types of witches. I’ve never seen one shrug off their body and slip into another one, like she’s changing clothes.”
“Cut it out Delilah. You’re not going to freak me out. Did you ever stop to think that maybe you and your ragtag coven lost to Plum, because you suck at doing magic? She bested you all, because your talent is lacking. Say what you want about me, but at least I know better than to challenge someone with more skills than me. Now stop pouting and get your ass downstairs, before Plum comes up here and sets your hair on fire!”
“Fine…if you won’t help me, then at least keep our little conversation to yourself. I’ll have to find some other way to get my girls to safety.”
Delilah angrily pushed past me, suddenly anxious to get downstairs. I watched her retreating back with the confident smile sliding off of my face. Delilah’s words had struck a nerve. A wave of uneasiness left me feeling a bit queasy. I strode around the office, waiting for the sensation to subside. At the sight of the vase containing Flame’s ashes, I realized what was bothering me.
Flame had been Plum’s right hand for how long? Granted, Plum suspected her of betrayal, but the two of them had a history together. How many times did Flame have her back and defend her in battle? She certainly always seemed loyal to me. I had never heard Flame say a negative word about Plum. It was a little disturbing that Plum didn’t even seem fazed by Flame’s death. Delilah was right, Plum had just slipped into Flame’s body like she was changing her clothes. If that body was badly injured and no suitable bodies were available, would Plum kick me out of my body?